Day 4 – Breaking habits

From my previous realisations:

Next Steps:

  • Set some specific actions to help me break poor habits and start to develop new strong and productive habits.
  • Understand my motivations and set some clear goals for my life.

Specific Actions based on these understandings:

If I can’t organise my mind and habits, I will never organise my life.

Fitness is the keystone to my life. When I’ve been fit and healthy, other habits fall into place so much more easily.

I beat myself up about not achieving, I’m scared of failure but ready to face it. Let’s do this.

  1. Become a student of productivity – Manage my lists and priorities to get things done.
  2. Set a specific fitness plan and goals.
  3. Understand what means the most to me in life.
  4. Define financial freedom and what it means to me.

I realise that this is a ‘top-to-bottom’, ‘all-or-nothing’ radical approach which I would generally consider stands a high chance of failure. It might be better to take an incremental and phased approach to manage risk and help to embed new habits.

There’s a couple of reasons why I want to take the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach:

  1. I’m sick of waiting around for my sorry ass to get things done slowly.
  2. I’m 44 years old and the clock is ticking. I don’t have the luxury of 30 years to develop a new system. I want to get it live now. Shock approach required.

Breaking poor habits

Some of the things I need to change

Drinking

I’ve always had this love / hate relationship with drinking. I have never been into hard liquor and spirits, only ever beer. I’ve always been a social drinker and have also drank quite a bit at home when sitting about. I’ve attempted moderation but it just doesn’t feel very satisfying and never quite sticks. I went through a period when I would buy 4 beers every night and work my way through them. This went on for quite a long time (probably years).

I know that alcohol is toxic, causes long-term health issues and raises risks for a number of diseases.

I know I drink mainly for that good feeling and this idea that ‘it’s relaxing’

Sometimes I drink due to social pressure, not wanting to be the dick who spoils things

Next Action: Cut out at least 95% of all drinking, never drinking alone and if in a social situation, only ever drinking max of 2 beers. For now, cut out drinking alcohol entirely and reassess over the next few months.

 

Video Games

I could talk a lot about video games, and probably will through the course of this blog. I’ve moved through the extremes from hating video games and them being a source of pure evil, to thinking they are great, empowering, driving imagination and building friendships. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle and depends very much on how they are used, Personally I use them as a tool for escapism and avoidance.

Here’s a brief list of games I have played to death: Elite (the original), Dungeon Master, BloodWych, Populous, Sim City, Sims, Civilisation, Red Alert (Command & Conquer etc), Everquest, Everquest 2 (pumped years into this MMO), Doom, Quake, Counterstrike, Rust, Half Life (Appropriate really), Reign of Kings, PUBG, DayZ, World of Warcraft, Diablo III, League of Legends (thousands of hours and games), Path of Exile, ARMA 3, ARMA 2.

Just putting this brief list out here, (and this is just the main offenders) shows me that gaming has swallowed so much of my time, and this is without looking at the myriad other games that I have dabbled with and put dozens of hours into.

I’ve played solo, and also with a bunch of guys for many years. Mostly solo though, so it’s not the social aspect I crave, it’s more about escapism. I played Everquest 2 for 6 years solidly, and ruined a couple of jobs and relationships because of it. I’ve also gone to the stage where I’ve convinced myself that video games are such a deep part of me that the best option is to work in the video games industry, which I have been doing for the last 6 years.

Next Action: For now, stop playing video games. If, at a later time I can rationalise playing clearly and manage it within a productive life, then I will think about it. Until then, defer the decision by abstaining.

 

Feeding my fat belly

Around 8 years ago, I gave up eating meat. Saying this causes distress and a general recoiling in a lot of people, like I am directly threatening their way of life. It’s a bit like drinking: by not drinking and by not eating meat a person is indirectly criticising someone who does drink and eat meat. At least that is how it seems. Since that time I have not once regretted the decision or felt a need to go back to eating meat. I don’t judge other people who do eat meat very much. If I do find myself internally frowning, I have a quiet word and remind myself that we are all on different journeys etc with different goals and beliefs. It might need another post to go through some of the logic I applied to my own personal situation when deciding not to eat meat. It sounds like a deep and well thought decision, but ultimately it was not really, and I built the logic around it after it happened. In brief the reasons are threefold:

  1. Shit, I love this awesome planet but eating meat is crushing this planet. I believe the planet is not just here to serve human needs. (Environment).
  2. I generally really like animals, they are cool and diverse and I’m happy to share the planet with these dudes and watch them going about their lives. I believe they have intrinsic value and in general, eating them is not essential for human well-being. I believe it’s not that hard to stop killing them to eat their bodies, so why not eh? (Ethics).
  3. I like to read about nutrition, and meat / dairy in my eyes, eaten the way we eat it in the West is the cause of a lot of premature death and disease. I could close my eyes to this and say “Well I might be hit by a car, screw it”, but ultimately I believe eating meat to be a poor health choice. (Heath).

If I write more about this, I will go into specific detail and link to some of the resources I researched. Just to say that if you want to hear the exact opposite perspective (Atkins Diet, High Protein Diets, Paleo diets) you can find it. It’s always worth digging a bit deeper to look at the motivations of the research. Also worth understanding that generally we make a decision and look for the data to back it up afterwards, rather than making decisions based on hard evidence.

So, I gave up meat. I would also like to give up dairy (eggs, cheese, milk) as I don’t see them as essential and it feels like the right direction for me. I already don’t eat a lot of cheese (it’s creamy and nice, but often tastes like sour vomit to me). I also don’t really like eggs, and only really drink milk in coffee and tea (Yes, i’m English). Giving these up and getting back to a healthier wholefood diet should not be difficult. At the same time cutting out junk (crisps, fatty shit, pizzas, general processed crap). I’m fat, and I know it. I can change, and understanding how is not rocket science.

Feels like I’m diverting from the main point of this post, which is about breaking poor habits.

Next Actions: Create menu with wife that works for me and the family (I have 2 young sons) while cutting out the dairy and processed crap.

It’s better for me, the family and the planet.

Disorganised

I am disorganised / untidy / undisciplined.

I’ve been telling myself this for years, like they are a set of genetic traits, along with height and eye colour. Like they are a part of me that I just need to live with. I see now that this is actually complete bullshit. Lack of discipline and untidiness are just poor habits that can (hopefully!) quite easily be changed. So where do the problems lie?

I do not have an effective system for ‘stuff’ coming into my life (anything from a letter to an email to a visiting relative).

I do not have a set of reliable tools for managing this stuff, that I trust.

I procrastinate because I do not have clear goals and objectives for the day, or my life.

I go to bed and often dump my clothes on the floor.

I cook and leave dirty dishes on tables and around the sink.

I do not put clothes in the laundry basket when used, my wardrobe is a mess.

I defer cleaning and tidying up as something that can be done at the weekend (any time but not now).

I allow clutter and useless items to build up in various rooms.

I do not have a system or assigned responsibility for cleaning and tidying (a bit but not reliable).

There’s over 100 things that I know I should be doing. “Better watch some MMA on Youtube then”, seems to be a regular, though not ideal, solution.

 

Next Actions: Read through “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I like this system, I just failed to apply the lessons to my own life effectively.

Read through and start to apply the ‘KonMari’ methods to decluttering our life and living a bit more minimalistically.

 

Goalless

I have limited goals that are vague, poorly defined lists with no timescales and no paths to achievement. I do not hold myself to them, and do not invest myself in the process of continual redefinition and reflection. I have not taken the time to sit and see what I hold as most valuable in my life and where my values lie. How can I have goals if I don’t know what I really want from life?

Next Actions: Put a weekly retrospective in my Google Calendar and share the doc on this blog

Read “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield and “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Take actions from these two books and create my next steps. There’s a lot more to be said about these, but we have to start somewhere right?

 

Unfit

I’m fat and unhealthy. This is accepted as the norm by me and a large number of other people on this planet. I weigh 100kg and I am 185cm tall.

Generally I don’t eat too badly, I just eat too much and do not exercise. As previousdly mentioned, I realise that exercise is one of my key habits. If I get this in place, a lot of other stuff also falls into place.

I have previousdly enjoyed running, rowing, cycling, swimming, lifting weights etc. I can get these back into my life with a good system.

Next Actions: Define an exercise plan and set some bigger goals

Track my weight over time and share it with this blog.

 

Financially undisciplined

I have been through periods of relative wealth and relative poverty. I’ve had enough money to buy a car and not worry about money. I’ve also been a bit towards the other end, scraping together coins to buy bread and milk and wonder where the next rent payment will come from.

I have the immense luck to have parents who are both loving and supportive. Sometimes I forget how lucky this makes me in this world. My parents have been there for me emotionally and financially so many times. Partly this safety net has made me lazy when it comes to finances. I’m not blaming them in any way, the fault is entirely mine and mine alone. We have never been wealthy as a family but at the same time I didn’t often have to think about money as a child. I have also been saved on a few occasions when money has become tight. After travelling and living in several different countries I have also failed to settle, buy a house and develop my personal financial situation and build savings.

 

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